Mentor: a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. This is the modern use of the term and is definitely one of affection. History has shown that both sides benefit from the mentoring relationship. Read on to find out who my mentors are and, once you have, I think it's only fair I know who you are mentee to!
Take photographer Richard Gerst for example. He believes every photographer has a mentor, whether they say so or not. His mentor, back when he was struggling to find his own technique, was photographer Rick Day. The words “stop shooting what you think other people want”, as spoken by Day to Gerst, changed Gerst’s life, and photographs, forever.
I’ve had past-mentors who I’m not in touch with anymore. Professor Grieves, a Journalism professor, was one. It was through him I found a commonality that propelled my desire to pursue an internship in Europe, and while we aren’t in frequent contact now, I’m interning at the Lomography HQ in Vienna. He also instilled in me the importance of pairing the perfect image with the perfect audio as an effective storytelling method when it came to short news packages made for Television.
Since I’ve been in Vienna, I’ve found mentors among colleagues and friends. My internship mentor, Gaby, is a mentor in the fullest sense of the term. She’s there to answer all my questions, at work and in life, and gives me the pushes I need to do what I often spend ages contemplating, particularly when I first arrived in the Austrian capital.
Photographically, I got lucky, didn’t I, with Lomographers as colleagues sitting beside me and at an arm’s reach, throughout the office. Always an experiment going on in my peripheral, a flash in the face, and talk of how to remedy underexposed photos! The lessons are there for my taking, and those willing to show me are very much a part of the umbrella I call ‘mentor’.
I believe the older you get, the more you live, and the more you move from place to place, you’ll find yourself with many more mentors than you started out with. Also, they become increasingly younger, a lot of them your peers. I suppose it makes sense, doesn’t it, transitioning from schooling where teachers were your de facto guides, to post-mandatory schooling where you, most often, decide who you meet and what you do.
So, who’s your mentor, and who are you mentor to? While you ponder this over, have a look at which notable persons have mentored which other notable persons here!